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LAHORE: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Wednesday accused the Hamza Shehbaz-led Punjab government of using law enforcement agencies (LEAs) for “political engineering and victimization” ahead of July 17 by-elections after the police carried out a raid at the office of Malik Nawaz Awan in PP-168 constituency late on Tuesday night and picked up his private gunmen.

Reacting to the development after video footages went viral on social media showing policemen arresting “private gunmen” of Malik Nawaz during a corner meeting, PTI Senator Ijaz Ahmad Chaudhry termed the event “police harassment” of the candidate and urged the police high-ups “not to become personal slaves of Hamza Shehbaz.”

PTI senior leader Dr Yasmin Rashid expressed similar concerns and called on the Punjab police to stop open bullying.

PTI Information Secretary for Central Punjab Andalib Abbas alleged that police are sabotaging peaceful elections by bullying PTI candidates. She said police cannot demoralise the party workers with its clever tactics. “IG Punjab should take immediate notice and release the guard and marriage hall owner immediately,” demanded Senator Ijaz Chaudhry.

Contrary to the PTI’s claims, the Lahore police have denied the incident saying police did not raid any PTI candidate’s office.

Lahore police spokesperson for operations wing said the use of private gunmen in the election campaign is a clear violation of the ECP’s issued code of conduct and therefore the private gunmen were arrested by the police. He also shared a video footage of the private gunman, claiming to be from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa to corroborate his claim.

The spokesperson added that the supporters of Malik Nawaz Awan clashed with the police during their attempt to arrest the private gunmen. “The impression of a raid on the PTI office is not correct. The action was taken due to the presence of private armed men,” he responded to the criticism.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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